Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A College Mess: The Double-Standards

College is a means to an end and an end in itself. We've been told this for so long that we can probably predict when someone is about to say it to us a few minutes before they open their mouths with a thoughtful or encouraging expression; and it's been everyone.
Parents, teachers, school guidance counselors, and maybe even coaches.
So, why do they harshly blame these college-going kids when they wind up in tremendous debt after the college years are up?
I came across an article on youth unemployment in America and it being the worst among the developed nations as there was less job participation among young people in the age groups of 18-34 than any other place.
The article is here if you'd like to read it.

It is mostly all of what you've heard before with a few more interesting facts about the severity of the problem.
But what surprised me wasn't the article itself, but the commentor's reactions in the discussion board below it.
Just a few of the comments:

....Party less and save more

....You skated through college with bullshit degrees, and you have to expect bullshit

....some of them are too young with no experience, they might as well just start their own business.

The comments speak volumes to the sheer ignorance of some people on this national issue...or explicitly show their lack of concern.
And it is a problem, something we all should worry about and seek the solution for.

The youth are the future, am I right? Because it's been told to each up and coming generation forever, as it should be since the new generation will always predict the standard of living we can expect within this country in the span of some years.

And its not looking so great.

 First off, what made me very angry-these comments are blaming the kids and not the system.

Kids are constantly told to go to college and that if they don't, they will not be employable.
 No matter their economic level or the lack of college readiness, kids are barraged and pushed into higher education for the sake of getting a job.

What I did, and I wish most teachers advocated to me, was go to a community college for 2 years then transfer to a university for a higher degree because I thought that best and because I was ready for it. That way, I had an Associate's that was more specialized (because it was technical/trade college) and most of my general requirements were fulfilled at the low cost the community college offered.

But no, too many people were ashamed of community college/technical schools because of their teachers. They went to a university right out of high school, without being thoroughly prepared for what all that goes into it (short campus visits and brochures don't count, neither do websites)...

Another issue these commentators were blaming on the kids was the whining they do when they get 'bullshit' degrees and expect a job out of it. I understand that some degrees are not as economical as others and that sometimes you are better off getting one degree over another, but let's stop telling kids they can be whatever they want to be if that is the case and that happiness comes from loving your job first. It's a crazy paradox.

Kids grow up being told to follow their dreams and be anything they want to be, only to be slammed by adults that say their major was stupid or meaningless, and sometimes even their jobs. J.K. Rowling, the successful author of the Harry Potter books, took a major in Greek mythology and used that 'useless' degree somehow to her advantage. If students have the creativity and genius to do something with a useless degree, then it doesn't become useless, although it might need some improvisation and much consideration and planning. Preferably, students should do this if they have in mind what the limitless possibilities are with that degree.

The last thing that bothers me about this slam on the youth is the third comment. It's very hard for young people to start their own business as well as fully functioning adults, especially since their high-schools do not teach them how to within the curriculum. Bureaucracy and government intervention has contributed to the lowest number of independent businesses now existing in America (also, big corporations that come into town). This combination is daunting and lethal, and needs to be addressed.

Before you slam the youth, look at the system you've pushed them in.
College is becoming more expensive each year, therefore becoming out of reach for people who are not rich. Student loans are almost can the youth 'party all the time' when they're worried about paying all their expenses at school or get kicked out? Finding jobs and making connections before they leave school to the point they almost or cant at all enjoy the college years, supposedly the best years of their lives?
Don't lecture the youth, help them do more than scrape by.

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